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nanny-rosy
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Author Topic: Barefooting/VFFing the AT  (Read 1611 times)
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violentoceans
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« on: February 14, 2010, 03:41:52 PM »

In a week and a day I'll be starting my thru-hike of the AT (which might go on to become the IAT, depending on how I'm feeling).  Aside from the first few weeks (where it'll be too snowy and likely too cold, forcing me to wear hiking boots--ugh) I'll be going barefoot pretty much everywhere there's not super sharp gravel, or really cold temps.  Where there is super sharp gravel I'll be wearing KSOs.  It makes sense to go this route, since I essentially grew up being barefoot all the time (by choice, not because I didn't have shoes Wink)--I was the only kid that would wear shoes TO school only to take them off as soon as got there and go stocking foot for the rest of the day.  The only time I've ever had any injuries to my feet happened while--and because (I'm convinced)--I was wearing shoes, which isn't something I want when I'm planning on walking more than 2100 miles.  I'm not concerned about how my feet will hold up under constant barefoot hiking, because it's so normal to me.  Hiking in any kind of footwear is a PITA, because shoes force my feet into unnatural positions (particularly on unlevel ground), and my feet are always jamming forward into the front of the shoe or boot (doesn't matter what sort of footwear, it always happens), or compressing my instep as I have very high arches.  I'm hoping once I get past the Smokies the snow will diminish enough that I'll be able to start wearing my KSOs, and hopefully not long after that going barefoot altogether. 

Anyhow, I'm excited.   I'll try to post updates on how it's going (periodically, of course since I primarily will not be in internet friendly areas) if anyone's interested.
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« on: February 14, 2010, 03:41:52 PM »

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Rana
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« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2010, 04:24:31 PM »

I'd love to read your updates!  Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2010, 10:33:47 PM »

Definatley blogging material.
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quadjr4
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« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2010, 11:08:35 PM »

Absoluty interested in reading up on your trip. In my future i want to do the Pacific Crest Trail as a thru hike. Im down here in San Deigo not far from the begining. Well good luck and have fun. And try to take some pictures!
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« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2010, 11:08:35 PM »

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violentoceans
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« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2010, 09:06:29 PM »

Definatley blogging material.

Heh.  I don't know.  Blogs are so cumbersome.  I've been toying with the idea, but I'm not sure yet.  I plan to keep a record, I just don't know that I'll do it in the form of a blog.  If I do, I'll let you know.
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« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2010, 09:10:24 PM »

Or you could vlog. I like vlog.
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violentoceans
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« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2010, 09:26:13 PM »

Or you could vlog. I like vlog.

Vlogging would be even more difficult, because I'd either have to carry my laptop which is way too much extraneous weight, or carry my video camera which as already been packed away I don't even know where.  I could record on my digital camera, but that would take up too much card space meaning fewer pictures... so a vlog is probably not going to happen.  Undecided

Absoluty interested in reading up on your trip. In my future i want to do the Pacific Crest Trail as a thru hike. Im down here in San Deigo not far from the begining. Well good luck and have fun. And try to take some pictures!

I'm planning on doing the PCT next year.  I'm super excited about that.  The wide variation in terrain and scenery alone will be awe inspiring. 
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Rana
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« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2010, 03:00:16 AM »

You can always transcribe your notes and photos later - there's no reason a blog has to be done in real time.
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« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2010, 08:29:21 PM »

Me and my dad are gonna hike half the AT this summer and we're planning on using kso's and some five ten hiking shoes, mostly for around the areas up north where it's really rocky. It'd be cool to see how it goes for you.
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« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2010, 12:24:33 PM »

Not trying to be silly but are critters (ie snakes) a concern without lower leg protection?
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« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2010, 12:11:53 AM »

I wouldn't imagine snakes would be a huge problem, if you're careful and don't step on one accidentally.  I think snakes are the living equivalent of glass and dog poop - if you're paying attention, they shouldn't be a problem.

(My godmother hiked for years in the desert, often in very snakey places, wearing only a pair of Keds.)

The only place I'd be worried would be in a place like an Australian outback meadow - grass makes snakes hard to see, and they're deadly enough there that the risk's not worth it.
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violentoceans
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« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2010, 02:40:43 PM »

Updates, updates, updates:

It's been way snowier and colder than is normal for this part of the country during this time of the year.  Apparently the worst winter in at least the past eight years...  Meaning I haven't had terribly much use for my KSO's and almost none for actual barefooting.  All in all, I think I've worn my KSO's for about 15 miles total.  I went barefoot for about 20', the entirety of which went something like this: Ooh, ah, ooh, ah, cold coldCOLD!

So here's the rundown:  I started out wearing my vaques, as the weather hovered around 25F, not including the massive windchill (I have a Pathfinder, which is awesome and gives me the temp).  The were fine at first, though they irritated my massively sized calluses.  But that's managable so as they were filed down.  No blisters or anything to speak of.  All was good for... probably the first five days.  My arches hurt a bit, but I figured that's to be expected when you're hiking 12-15 miles a day with 35-40lbs on your back.  Then on day five, climbing up a hill, my right achilles tendon went from being perfectly fine to experiencing exquisite agony within the space of 20 minutes.  The pressure that was being put on the tendon by the back of the boot because of the constant uphilliness had irritated it causing it to become red and inflamed.  It was either stop walking, or put on my KSO's.  So even though the weather then was about 20F and there was snow everywhere, I put them on.  Ah--instant relief... at least from the pain, not so much the cold.  Thankfully,it was so far below freezing because,had there been slush to get my feet wet, I would have lost toes.  (Updating in an internet cafe, which won't let me change computer settings and is set to delete anything you type in front of, so spelling mistakes and grammatical errors will remain unfixed, just an fyi.)  By the time we made it into camp that night my toes were pretty much numb, so I crawled into my bag and didn't emerge until morning.  The next day I alternated between my boots on the icier sections, as KSO's get zero traction on ice making them VERY dangerous, and my KSO's on the clearer areas.  Switching back and forth got to be a PITA, so I walked along like my right leg, from the knee down, was in an air cast, trying not to flex my ankle.  We made it to town that day, so we rented a car and drove down to Atlanta to find me some new footwear.  I got a pair of Keens, low cut to hopefully not irritate the tendon.  They worked fine for a few days, though they weren't as waterproof as my vasques, meaning my feet got wet, fortunately, they were still warmer than the KSO's.  Then, after four days or so, the same tendon issue popped up again.  Meaning my foot, apparently, is refusing to do the shoe thing.  Right now, it's still too snowy, icy, and sometimes wet to do KSO's.  So I've deicded to take a week off, or so, to let the snow melt, so that when I head back out I don't have to do shoes at all and my feet will be happy with me. 

Incidentally, the arch pain that I figured was normal, and had been lingering even after multiple off days with my shoes, is now almost completely gone after a day without shoes.  Which leads me to believe that that is also the fault of shoes.

As for the questions, I'm not at all worried about snakes when it comes to myself.  I'm a bit more worried about them when it comes to my dogs, who are also hiking with me.  But even so, it's only a bit as generally, if given the oppurtunity snakes will avoid confrontation.  Also, if a snake *really* wanted to bite me, an extra four inches of shoe isn't going to stop it. [/shugs]  At least that's how I look at things.  Also, the majority of snakes on the AT aren't so poisoness (to fully grown humans) that they're likely to kill you before you could get help.  But then I walk on the wild side. Wink 

Anyhow, I think that's everything I have to report for the moment.
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